June 10, 2015
Camille Paglia: ‘I had a screaming fight with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones…’
…because at that time, hard rock was seen as sexist. Now this argument seems so retrograde.
Reason: Although it’s true, right? The guitar’s a phallus. The rock god is Dionysius. He’s not a woman.
Paglia: But at that time, there were no woman musicians. That’s why Patti Smith was so radical when she appeared in her Frank Sinatra garb for [photographer Robert] Mapplethorpe on the front of Horses. We had a screaming fight about [the Stones song] “Under My Thumb.”* I said, “Yes, yes, the lyrics are sexist, but this is a great song. This is a work of art.” And these feminists cornered me with my back against the wall, practically spitting in my face, saying, “Nothing that demeans woman can be art.” Now, as a student of art history, how can you have any dialogue with these people? That is the Nazi and Stalinist view of art, where art is subordinate to a pre-fab political agenda.
Next was the argument over hormones. Again, screaming argument over hormones. I was told by the founding members of the Women’s Studies Department at the State University of New York at Albany that I had been brainwashed by male scientists to believe that hormones even existed, much less had any role in the shaping of our identity and character.
So I was banned from the women’s movement from the start, but I kept going on. I was pro-pornography, pro-prostitution on libertarian grounds. For years, my wing of feminism—which had been silenced and ostracized by the Steinem wing, the establishment wing, partisans of the Democratic party, my party, but nevertheless, I don’t feel that feminism should be subordinated to any party—finally, we rose in the ’90s and the pro-sex wing of feminism won in the ’90s thanks to Madonna having changed the culture.
* I literally had this same fight with a chick in the backroom of the Rivoli around 1986(?) during some Innu benefit. (Yet I can’t remember my new phone number after a month…)